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Mike Patton and Rahzel visited the Trocadero and bored me to tears. It’s like this: these are two very talented guys whose respective bags of tricks are only so deep.

Patton, who should absolutely be commended for his below-the-radar noise experimentation and tireless commitment to collaboration, ultimately excels more in the field of mutated pop music, where the established conventions of the genre allow a much more forgiving space for him to repeat himself. His assortment of squawks, squeals, and croons is less notably limited when set within the context of a ballsy rock song or even a soft Mediterranean ballad, as opposed to Merzbow’s grating textures or the cacophony of some gathering of John Zorn’s second-stringers. For my ears, this is why the last Tomahawk album, which mostly retread ground paved by Faith No More and Mr. Bungle, was so much more invigorating a listen than the last Fantômas album, which mostly retread Pranzo Oltranzista, Patton’s second avantgarde solo album.

While I’ve been following Patton’s work closely for years, Rahzel’s career is considerably less storied, not to mention firmly rooted in hip-hop, a culture whose products don’t make a very significant dent in my music collection. So my judgement is pretty much limited to the performance I saw. And really, the performance wasn’t all that interesting. It seemed to be largely improvisational, which deserves a certain measure of respect, but while Rahzel’s human beatbox is astounding in its simulation of an actual DJ at the decks, it doesn’t simulate a particularly inventive DJ, and craft is only as valuable as the art it serves. Patton’s contribution was merely a supplemental arrangement of the familiar elements of his repertoire, filtered through multiple microphones and a table full of effects gadgets. The result was generally so self-congratulatory, I wasn’t sure why it was even being performed to an audience.

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